The Post-Divorce-Parenting Glossary

Divorced-Parenting Term

Alimony Pendente Lite

   What is alimony pendente lite?

   Alimony pendente lite is temporary alimony that the judge can award after a couple separates, but before the divorce is finalized.  This allows the spouse who is awarded Alimony pendente lite to sustain a specific standard of living during the divorce process, so issues involving cost of living can be adequately addressed without negatively affecting the financial welfare of the spouse with less earnin potential.  For this reason alimony pendente lite is also called temporary spousal support or temporary alimony.

Pendente lite derives from Latin meaning "pending legislation." Therefore, alimony pendente lite disolves when the divorce is finalized.  Often, though, it is translated into the ongoing alimony awarded in the final divorce settlement.

       Does alimony pendente lite have anything to do with child support?

   Alimony and alimony pendente lite are not the same as child support.  Child support is intended to support the expenses associated with raising a child, while alimony and alimony pendente lite are intended to maintain a financial level for the spouse.  Alimony and alimony pendente lite can occur with or without children.
   Alimony pendete lite acts as a stop gap to address the financial challenges that occur as a couple separates.  As a couple separates their financial obligations still remain such as a mortgage, utilities, and a single spouse may not be able to suddenly afford the cost.  A spouse awarded alimony pendente lite may be able to maintain their lifestyle while having their expenses covered, at least until their divorce is finalized.
   Typically the spouse with the greater income will provide the temporary alimony as a monthly payment.  In addition to paying bills, the alimony may be used to help pay the dependent spouse's legal fees.

   How is alimony pendente lite determined?

   The couple's current financial situation (expenses and income) determine the amount of alimony pendete lite.  A court considers the needs of each spouse, which spouse is finiancial dependent on the other, the financial means of the spouse supporting the other, and the amount needed for both spouses to continue living the way they had while they were married. The goal is that the amount awarded is to be enough so that both spouses will live equally comfortable until the divorce is finalized.  Alimony pendente lite can be determined via a mutual agreement between both spouses or it can be court ordered.

   What should a divorcing person do if seeking temporary alimony?

   Not all divorces will involve alimony or alimony pendente lite, but if seeking it, separating couples may negotiate a specific amount to be paid each month or divide the expenses.   A family law attorney can support the development of an agreement but only until a judge endorses and signs it, is the agreement legally binding.  The court may intervene if one spouse is not being collaborative and order alimony pendente lite to be awarded.
/  Resources:
Alimony Pendente Lite - defined and described
This website defines alimony pendente lite and provides a thourough overview of its function as well as how to seek it.
Alimony Pendente Lite - briefly defined
The Divorce Support website provides a brief definition of alimony pendente lite.
Is Alimony Always Tax Deductible to the Paying Spouse?
Spousal support is something that needs to be understood for tax purposes. This article explains how alimony pendente lite is treated in tax returns.

Alimony Pendente Lite, spousal support, child support, temporary alimony

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